India Choquette is a writer, a trainer, a teacher, a breakfast sandwich eater, a person in love with a person, and a FOrmer Vermonter living in New York City.

Frank The Barber (Character Study)

Here is the beginning of a story about Frank. I haven’t finished it, but maybe by the time the holidays roll around, I’ll feel nostalgic for a good ‘ol gay holiday tale and get to work.

The saddest moment of Frank’s life was when his son didn’t come home for Christmas that first year. It wasn’t that the boy didn’t have a good reason—he was on his Christmas honeymoon in Aruba—but Frank knew that it signaled the beginning of the end. His son now had a new family, and even though it was still just a family of two, Maria and Marcus, it was a different two. The rules of the holidays would change.

Frank was lucky—his apartment was directly over his shop, and family tradition was to go down to the shop Christmas morning and open presents there. They set the tree right up in the waiting area, and Marcus would open his presents sitting like a little king in a giant red leather barber chair. A throne. Later, when the king had finished, the neighbors would start to come by, bringing fruitcakes and cookies to the small king Marcus and his independent father with the beautiful singing voice. By late afternoon, there’d be so many people in the shop that all the chairs would be full—the barber chairs, the waiting room benches, and the two tall stools behind the front desk (Marcus used to do his math homework late at night sitting at that desk), and Clara and Maryann would run next door to get folding chairs.

But this year, Marcus was twenty-six and married. He would not be there. Frank didn’t know if he would bother going downstairs in the morning. Maybe, if he didn’t set the tree up in the shop, people would take a hint. And if not, the first neighbor would come by and see it empty, and then his loneliness would be known. He had adopted Marcus as a young man, and he had never sought another companion. How could he? He never felt he could grow his own family without an unholy deception. But thank God, Marcus didn’t share his curse, and for that, Frank was willing to spend every Christmas alone.

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